Archive for the ‘Europe’ Category

NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures rose Tuesday, a day after fears about European debt sparked …

US stock futures edge up after steep declines
May 24, 2011, 8:44 a.m. EDT
Associated Press

Journal By Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stock futures rose Tuesday, a day after fears about European debt sparked steep declines in financial markets around the world.

Ahead of the opening bell, Dow Jones industrial average futures are up 39, or 0.3 percent, at 12,401. Standard & Poor’s 500 futures are up 5, or 0.4 percent, at 1,319. Nasdaq 100 futures are up 7, or 0.3, at 2,322.

The modest advance in futures trading came despite more troubling news about the state of European debt management.

Greece‘s main opposition party said it opposed the government’s new austerity measures. The announcement dashed hopes that the country might be able to repair its finances enough to get another loan package from the International Monetary Fund.

Ratings agency Moody’s warned that a Greek restructuring of its debt would constitute a default. Moody’s said such a move would hurt the credit ratings of Greece and other debt-laden European countries. The ratings agency also said it would review 14 British financial institutions for a possible downgrade.

Nonetheless, European stocks recovered Tuesday after Monday’s declines.

The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 0.4 percent in midday trading. Germany’s DAX rose 0.7 percent and the CAC-40 in France was 0.2 percent higher. The euro also rose slightly against the dollar after falling to a two-month low Monday.

In economic news, the Commerce Department is expected to report at 10 a.m. Eastern on how many new homes were bought in April, offering traders a glimpse at the housing market.

Analysts expect sales to have been roughly flat, rising slightly to an annual rate of 303,000 from 300,000 in March. That is still far below the 700,000 in annual sales seen as representing a healthy market.

New homes are unappealing to budget-conscious families because their median price is nearly 31 percent higher than previously-occupied homes. That’s twice the price difference typical of a healthy economy. At their current rate, new-home sales are on track to experience a sixth straight year of declines.

The Dow fell as much as 180 points Monday before paring back some of its losses after Greece, Italy and Spain suffered weekend setbacks in their attempts to control their debt. The Dow fell 130.78 points, or 1 percent, to close at 12,381.26.The S&P 500 index lost 15.90, or 1.2 percent, to 1,317.37. The Nasdaq dropped 44.42, or 1.6 percent, to 2,758.90.


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German business confidence slips as outlook clouds

German business confidence slips as outlook clouds
Associated Press
Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr., Owner and Founder of: and

BERLIN (AP) — German business confidence has slipped off a two-decade high as managers’ outlook for the next six months was tempered by a slight decline in optimism on exports, a closely watched survey showed Friday.

The Ifo institute said its confidence index was down slightly to 111.1 points for March from 111.3 in February. The slip followed nine consecutive months of increases, and Ifo stressed that the “traffic lights still signal ‘green.'”

Managers’ assessment of the current situation improved and the overall decline was due entirely to a less optimistic six-month outlook. The subindex measuring expectations sank to 106.5 points from 107.9 in February.

Ifo said that manufacturing firms plan to increase staff numbers even though “future export business is no longer assessed quite so optimistically.” Friday’s survey showed that retailers, wholesalers and construction firms also were less optimistic for the next half-year.

Export strength has been central to Germany‘s powerful economic recovery over the past year, although it has been accompanied by signs of improving domestic demand.

Slightly less than half of this month’s Ifo survey responses arrived after problems started at Japan’s earthquake-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex.

There was little evidence, however, that events in Japan pose a direct, immediate economic threat to Germany. Problems with delivery of Japanese products to German carmakers, for example, “could only delay but not stop production,” ING economist Carsten Brzeski said.

“The only serious and substantial threat for the German economy from recent global developments is linked to energy prices,” which could rise on spreading political unrest in the Arab world or as a results of consequences of the Japanese nuclear plant accident, he added.

The Ifo decline “is no reason to get petrified,” Brzeski said. “The economy is slipping on oil but is not tumbling. The fundamentals of the German economy are strong enough to withstand some setbacks.”

IHS Global Insight economist Timo Klein noted that “Germany’s increasing domestic strength continues to be boosted by interest rates that are much too low for its own economic conditions” — even though the European Central Bank is expected to raise rates from a record-low 1 percent next month.

“The German economy will stay very robust during 2011,” assuming global growth isn’t hobbled by much wider Middle East troubles, a major escalation of Japan’s nuclear crisis or fast-growing China slamming on the brakes to combat inflation, he added.

The monthly Ifo survey is based on responses from about 7,000 companies.


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Markets see renewed fears about European debt

Markets see renewed fears about European debt
Associated Press
Posted by Calvin Lee Ledsome Sr.,
Owner & Founder of: and

LONDON (AP) — An outbreak of jitters over Europe’s debt crisis and discouraging U .S. housing data weighed on stocks Wednesday as investors grew increasingly concerned over both Portugal and Ireland.

A day before a summit of EU leaders in Brussels, a major worry is that Portugal’s government may fall later Wednesday following an expected defeat on planned austerity measures in a Parliament vote.

“A failure to support the proposed austerity measures (in Portugal) may trigger the fall of the government, increasing the likelihood that an EU bailout will be needed,” said Vassili Serebriakov, an analyst at Wells Fargo Bank.

While Portugal tries to stave off a bailout, the new Irish government is showing no sign of raising its super-low corporate tax rate, meaning the European Union is unlikely to give the Irish easier terms for their bailout loan.

Against that backdrop, investors are refocusing on Europe’s debt crisis after a couple of weeks when most attention has been centered on North Africa and Japan.

Movements in bond markets indicated increasing pessimism among investors. The yield on Portugal’s ten-year bonds was up 0.12 of a percentage point to 7.61 percent, a whisker short of euro-era highs, while Ireland’s yield was up 0.23 percentage point to 10.07 percent, its highest level since the single euro currency was established in 1999.

The worries started to affect the euro, which was trading 0.3 percent lower on the day at $1.4135.

And in Europe’s stock markets, Germany’s DAX was down 0.5 percent at 6,749 while the CAC-40 in France fall 0.3 percent to 3,881. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.2 percent lower at 5,750.

In the U.S., stocks were further undermined by another bad set of housing figures — the Dow Jones industrial average was down 0.3 percent to 11,982 while the broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.6 percent to 1,286.

This time, the Commerce Department reported that new-home sales fell 16.9 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 250,000 homes. That was the third straight monthly decline and far below the 700,000-a-year pace that economists view as healthy.

“This report and the existing home sales data released yesterday confirm that the housing market is still in free fall,” said Steven Ricchiuto, chief economist at Mizuho Securities.

U.S. economic news has barely driven markets over recent weeks, as investors have been preoccupied by developments in the Arab world, most recently in Libya, and the aftermath of the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Japan’s struggle to contain radiation from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant and fears that the economic cost of the natural disasters may run over $300 billion weighed on Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 stock average earlier, which closed down 1.7 percent to 9,449.47.

There was also a lot of interest in the resumption of trading on Egypt’s stock exchange following a near two-month shutdown because of the mass protests that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak. Unsurprisingly, it plunged almost 9 percent, with foreign investors leading the sell-off.

Earlier in Asia, South Korea’s Kospi eased 0.1 percent to 2,012.18, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.1 percent to 22,825.40.

Mainland Chinese stocks rose with the Shanghai Composite Index gaining 1 percent to 2,948.48, and the smaller Shenzhen Composite Index up 1.2 percent to 1,299.99. Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand also rose.

Oil prices on the New York Mercantile Exchange hovered around $105 a barrel as violent uprisings in Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East kept traders nervous about possible crude supply disruptions. OPEC-member Libya, which produces enough oil to meet nearly 2 percent of world demand, has almost totally stopped shipping it.


Pamela Sampson in Bangkok contributed to this report.


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U.S. Stocks Fall on Europe Debt Concerns, Higher Oil

Fier Says Conifer `More Bullish Now Than Last Month’


Calvin L. Ledsome Sr.,

Also Owner and Founder of: and

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